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The Art Public

A Short History

A brief intellectual history of the idea of the art public.
The Art Public explores the history of efforts to imagine a collective, general audience for art in the world. Oskar Bätschmann explores both written and pictorial evidence of the development of the “art public” as an idea and disentangles connections between art production, audiences, and actual reception. Two aspects shape the narrative: the transformation of the audience from passive recipient to active agent as well as satirical jabs at audiences by the likes of Cruikshank, Rowlandson, and Daumier. This sweeping account connects the ancient Greeks with Renaissance painters, modern writers, and contemporary movie stars in a deft survey of the ways we imagine art’s immediate impact on audiences and its afterlives in museums, galleries, and the world.

240 pages | 30 color plates, 23 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2

Art: Art Criticism, European Art

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"The abundance of different types of sources from the antique to the present produces an astonishing history of the public. We read about artworks, as well as remarks by artists, art theorists, connoisseurs and critics, of the history of exhibitions, auctions and collections and much more. There is no other book so far with such a richness of sources and aspects concerning the public sphere. It should produce a new area of research."

Werner Busch, Freie Universität Berlin

"Bätschmann wears his great learning lightly. Illustrated by a sequence of evocative images, this study is a wonderfully wide-ranging and cogent analysis of the reception of art across the ages."

Stephen Bann,University of Bristol

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